It was a few months ago now, but I wanted to pass on my impression of WhiskyFest in Chicago in March. I’m getting info now on WhiskyFest in New York for October, which I can’t attend. If you can and are at all interested, I have one word of advice for you… Go!
What’s WhiskyFest? In Chicago, it was an evening of over 200 whiskies to sample, along with several seminars to attend, anywhere from paring ales and whiskies to tasting verticals from Diageo. Distillers and distributors were all over the conference floor with displays and bottles on bottles of whiskies. Most seemed to be Scotch, but there was a smattering of Irish whiskey as well as American whiskies.
The event is only about 3 hours long, so I had the option of trying to drink everything in sight or picking the ones I most wanted to try. I went for trying the ones I wanted to try. After the pre-event at Binny’s the night before, being “over served” wasn’t what I was going for!
There were several food stations throughout the area, too, with food from carved roast beef sandwiches to different varieties of cheeses to desserts to Asian food to whole poached salmon. And I have to say I was pretty impressed with the quality of the food, considering it was a whisky event.
What I wanted to get out of the night was to learn something more about whisky. I met up with a friend of mine from Michigan (who stayed in one of the rooms at Longman & Eagle), and we tried to get into a couple of the seminars, but they filled up quickly. Another word of advice… New York’s event is Friday evening and all day and evening Saturday… Get to the seminars you want to attend early so you get a seat!
The price of Whiskyfest was around $135 (or $50 more for VIP tickets, where you get in earlier and special tastings). What you get for the price is something like 200 whiskies to sample, some great food and some really interesting seminars on whisky. There was a nice variety overall, including some fairly expensive whiskies. In fact, I got to try a couple that I actually have on my shelf but haven’t opened… The nice thing was I found out that they were great whiskies and worth what I paid! I also got to find some really good whiskies that weren’t too expensive. One of my favorite finds of this kind was the Dalmore Gran Reserva. Compared to the Cigar Malt, which was almost double the price, the Gran Reserva was a much better value, I thought.
Overall, I was pretty good. I didn’t over-indulge, and I came home with only 2 bottles, which I got for good prices, the Dalmore Gran Reserve and an Ardbeg Uigeadail. And I wish I could go to the event in New York in October!